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Dietitian

Dietitians translate the science of nutrition into everyday information about food.

Training and qualifications required

To practise as a dietitian, you must be registered with the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC) and to register you need to study for an approved programme in dietetics. This is usually a BSc (Hons) degree and courses are three or four years. Universities decide there own requirements but you're likely to need two or three A levels or equivalent, including chemistry, maths or biology, along with five GCSEs (grades A-C), including English language and maths. If you have a degree already with an acceptable level of human physiology and biochemistry, there are approved graduate-entry shortened Masters and diploma programmes. A degree apprenticeship in dietetics has been approved and offers an alternative route to HCPC registration.

Expected working hours and salary range

Most dietitians in the NHS work standard hours, which are likely to be around 37.5 a week. Dietitians working elsewhere such as the food industry, the media or sports nutrition may work normal office hours of around 9.00am to 5.00pm. They may however have to work evenings or weekends according to the needs of the employer. Self-employed dietitians hours of work depend on client needs. They may work evenings and weekends to suit private clients. Some dietitians may have to travel between client appointments.

Desirable skills and values

Skills include an interest in science, food, people and their lifestyles, a positive and motivating attitude, an understanding of science be able to explain complex things simply and organisation skills

Prospects

You could specialise in a clinical area, such as cancer or diabetes. Or you could work with particular groups, such as elderly people or those with learning difficulties. Teaching and health education are also options. You could take on a management role where you would supervise the work of a team of dietitians. Eventually, you could be responsible for controlling a budget and planning and marketing a dietetic service. Elsewhere, you could specialise in for example, sports nutrition or an area of the food industry.
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